Become more productive with a daily activity log

Learn how to use a daily activity log to get the most out of your time.

What you will learn

  • What is an activity log?

  • How to start an activity log

  • How to measure the success of an activity log

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep on top of your work. When jobs pile up it’s not always easy to manage tasks effectively, which is perfectly normal. Nobody is perfect at managing their time and there is always room for improvement. When you learn how to properly manage your time more efficiently, you can increase the productivity of your work and make the most of your day. One of the most effective ways to keep on top of your tasks is by keeping an activity log throughout the day, where you can focus on the higher value, most important work and minimise or eliminate the low value, less important activities. In this article, we will look at how keeping an activity log can help you become more productive with your work.

What is an activity log?

An activity log is a written record of how you allocate the time you spend on daily tasks. Keeping an activity log helps you gain a better, more realistic understanding of how you spend your time throughout the week. Logging your activities can help you discover whether you’re doing your most important tasks during the right time of the day.

We all work differently, some people tend to be more energetic and productive in the morning, these people should consider doing their most important, high value tasks during this time. Most people tend to get less energetic or tired later in the day, so keeping the lower energy tasks (such as checking emails or doing admin) for this time of day can help you to prioritise your workload more efficiently.

Activity logs are also helpful in identifying non-essential activities that don’t help you accomplish important objectives. Tracking the time you spend on these non-essential activities can give you a better understanding of the tasks you can eliminate from your day-to-day work e.g. scrolling through social media or messaging friends can be done when you finish work on time after ticking off all essential milestones!

How to start an activity log

Incorporating an activity log into your day will not only help you become more productive with your work, but it can also help you become more efficient with your time management. Keeping a record of what you do throughout the day makes you more accountable for your work. It is important that you are honest with yourself and keep a note of any changes or extra tasks you take on throughout the day. We are all human, so change is inevitable- did you spend an extra ten minutes talking with a co-worker? Did an urgent request come through? Write it down. For your activity log to be useful it has to be an accurate outline of your day.

On a spreadsheet document, or using the template below, create a column for each of these headings:

  • Date/Time
  • Activity description
  • How I feel
  • Duration
  • Value (high, medium, low, none)

Once you have done this, write down all the activities you have planned for the day- this can be subject to change. Remember to allocate some time to your activity log, returning to the template throughout the day to ensure that you are ticking off the high priority tasks.

How to learn from your activity log

Being consistent with your daily activity logs can help you understand how you spend your day. The more honest you are with yourself the better! Having an honest and realistic outline of how you spend your days can help you recognise patterns in how you feel and how long it takes you to complete a task. This can help you to create an action plan on how to boost your activity going forward.

  1. Consider your energy levels: Tracking how you feel during each task and times of day is a great way of recognising when you are most productive. Do you see that you feel more energised in the afternoon or morning? Are you feeling sluggish mid-afternoon? These are good points to note, so you can then do the most important tasks when you feel the most energised and allocate breaks when you have low energy levels.
  2. Eliminate non-essential tasks: Do you spend a few times a day on your phone? Are you spending more time on social media than checking your emails? Try removing these from your day to day activity, or at least cutting them down, and it is likely you will have much more time to spend on relevant tasks.
  3. Reduce the amount of time you spend switching between tasks: Spending more time on the one task can help you to stay focused and complete it faster. When we switch between too many tasks it can end up being counterproductive. Dedicate time to each activity and, if you don’t complete the task in this timeframe, consider the priorities of the other tasks on your list: if you have time to return after another high value activity ensure that you make the changes and record this in your log.
  4. Keeping track of task duration: One of the biggest benefits of keeping an activity log is tracking how long it takes you to do each task. This can help you prepare for similar future tasks, become more efficient with your time management, and provide your co-workers or clients with realistic timeframes. This will make you more productive and help you to become more reliable at work.

Keeping an activity log is a fantastic way to learn about your time keeping habits, your productivity levels and your tasks throughout the week. Tracking your time will enable you to become more efficient and keep you accountable for each task. By eliminating or reducing the time spent on low value, less important tasks, you will become more productive.

Some other articles you may find useful

Life Career Rainbow

Learn how to use the Life Career Rainbow to re-centre your personal and professional priorities.

Improving your productivity

Maximising your productivity won’t always revolve around long hours at work. Try our tips to make the most of the time you have.

Life priorities and managing your workload

Managing workload and life priorities requires a shift in focus from activities to results. Here's how to be effective with your time.